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  • Writer's pictureAndy Ross

Coffee and Zillow

There’s a habit I’ve developed during much of the shut-in times that has become a part of my regular morning routine. As I sit there with my first cup of coffee I’ll have my tablet in my lap and I’ll open the Zillow app. If you’ve never used Zillow it’s an app and website that has various real estate listings and you can search by zip code, town, and things like that.

I’ll set the search parameters for our region and while I let the coffee wake me up I’ll glance over houses for sale. I don’t know exactly why I like looking at houses for sale that I largely can’t afford. I’m not in the market, but I do like seeing people’s design choices. Some of them make sense to me, then some of them leave me with a lot of questions, such as the one time I saw a bathroom with the HVAC unit right next to the toilet.

A strange commonality and I don’t know if it qualifies as a trend or not, that I’ve noticed is some of the larger homes that cost absurd amounts of money all have really small kitchens. To the point that I find myself questioning who designed them. Whoever it was, has never cooked for a group of people in their life. If I was in the market for a McMansion to use as a status symbol—and that’s what they are, let’s get that very clear—I sure as heck would be upset if my thousands upon thousands of dollars home had a small, galley kitchen.

I’m not saying a galley kitchen isn’t functional or doesn’t have its place, there is a townhouse I saw once with a well-laid-out one that made sense, but anything over $500,000 with a galley kitchen is ridiculous. There are so many awful design trend sins that HGTV will have to answer for one day. The worst is draining all older homes of any character. You can see some of that too on Zillow.

A house that from the outside has the promise of lovely mid-century modern architecture—something I’m a fan of. Yet on the inside, the color period title of all the bathrooms has been transformed into something so generic it just looks like a wonderful case of “why bother?” I guess some people want to live in generic places, or they just have bad taste or both. These are the homes that cause me to head scratch the most. Not to mention the absurd about of shiplap you see nowadays.

Another common thing you see is that you’ll look at a house that is perfectly lovely and fine, then you get one room that just makes you wonder “what?” I don’t know if it’s a room that is supposed to be a rec room or a “man cave”—a term I hate—but the typical suburban home that looks like a very cozy place to live then suddenly upstairs you see a room that appears to be a low-rent take on Elvis’s Jungle room at Graceland.

I know that realtors tell their clients to change certain things about homes to make them sell, I wonder how much Zillow has to do with this? Yet, I also wonder why they’d said “Your house is perfect except for the jungle room that may be where you do freaky things, but you know what? Let’s RUN WITH IT!”

The morning sit with a coffee and Zillow is always an interesting look at what is going on with our region’s real estate market, design choices both good and bad, and sometimes things that just give you a lot to think about while you’re trying to start your day. I’m still haunted by the Jungle Room, and I hope you’ll go looking for it too on Zillow. I don’t want to suffer alone. See you next week.

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